Why Your Church Needs a Check-in System
(Convince Your Boss)
Imagine a parent at your church comes up to you when church is over and frantically says they can’t find his/her child. What is the first thing you do? Do your volunteers know what to do if there is a missing child? Is your church taking children’s safety seriously? If you’re in children’s ministry, this is a terrifying scenario that can happen in an instant and can end in devastation if your church doesn’t take the proper safety precautions.
Churches may think it’s unnecessary to have a check-in system because they know everyone in their church. Or they might have a check-in system but don’t enforce check-in and check-out, because the volunteers know the kids and parents. But even if your church people think they can easily know all the kids and parents, what about the new volunteer who joins the team, who doesn’t know everyone? What about the first time guest who doesn’t know anyone in the church? If your children’s ministry is growing and effective, you will be adding new volunteers and experiencing first-time guests. A check-in system helps protect the children in your church, as well as the parents and volunteers.
These are 10 things to consider when deciding if your church should use a check-in system or not:
- We can’t tell kids about Jesus if we don’t first keep them safe. Our goal every Sunday is point kids to the Lord and teach them that He loves them. If we don’t put their safety first, parents won’t feel comfortable leaving their kids. Churches are as much at risk as any place for child abuse and abduction, if not more because it is assumed that there aren’t a lot of security measures in place at churches. A check-in system provides a sticker for the child to wear, and a matching sticker, or pick-up ticket, for the parents. In order to pick up their child, the parent must provide the matching sticker to the children’s ministry leader or volunteer. This helps the church ensure that the right person picks up the right kid. It helps prevent someone from coming into your children’s ministry and abducting a child, or a non-custodial parent from taking the child. Once your church has a system in place for keeping kids safe, then you are freed up to focus on teaching them about Jesus.
- Why a computer check-in system? What about pen and paper or bracelets? Before computers were popular, many churches- if they had a check-in system- used pen and paper to sign kids in and out, or matching bracelets. So why not continue using these systems today? They are slower than computer check-in systems. With non-electronic check-in systems, parents can easily spend 15 minutes or more checking in their kids, especially with more than one kid. When your church uses the Kidmin App, they can check their kids in quickly at church, or on their mobile phone on the way to church, and pick up the tags when they arrive- it takes 10 seconds! The electronic system is also safer because it generates random security codes each Sunday to match each parent’s sticker to the child’s sticker. You can use the stickers to help categorize kids by age and room for your children’s ministry services and help volunteers easily see the child’s name and class. Some churches encourage kids to put their sticker on the child’s back, so he/she can’t pull it off easily. You can encourage your volunteers to check-in and print out stickers to identify themselves as volunteers. You can also page parents through the Kidmin App if they are needed during the service. Another reason electronic can be more helpful than other methods is that the data from an electronic system can be accessed from anywhere. You can be in another part of the building and pull up the service and see how many kids are checked into your nursery. You can also track attendance. You can pull reports and keep data that helps you keep track of who is coming each week; compare numbers and see who is new to your church.
- A check-in system helps guests feel comfortable leaving their kids. They will see that your church takes safety seriously. They will also be able to put special instructions on their child’s sticker. After the first week when they fill out the information and your children’s ministry leaders add the kids to the check-in system, the next week the parents will only have to type in their phone number, and their stickers will print out.
- Check with your church’s insurance company or attorney to find out what is required for check-in and check-out procedures. Many church insurance companies require specific safety precautions. If you have them, it is important to make sure that all volunteers enforce them for all kids and parents (even your pastor’s kids!)
- The size of your church doesn’t matter. If your church has 10 kids or 1,000 kids, you are responsible to keep them safe. All it takes is one time to devastate the life of a family. You can use Kidmin App with any number of kids and families. As your church grows, you will have more and more families, and it will be vital to have proper safety policies in place, and have your volunteers trained in these policies and procedures.
- Plan ahead: what to do if a child or parent loses their sticker. It should not be easily accessible for anyone in the church to reprint a sticker for either a child or a parent. If either one loses a sticker, have a process for checking IDs and making sure the parent is verified to pick up the child.
- It is important for everyone to utilize the check-in system and present pick-up stickers. You should even enforce the check-in system with parents and kids you know, because new families will see, and it may give the impression that your church isn’t serious about safety. They will also feel singled out if the new families are the only ones being asked to show stickers. Even pastors and familiar church leaders should be seen following the safety procedures because they set an example for other members of the church.
- You can alert your volunteers about kids with allergies. Volunteers can look at the stickers on kids to see if they have allergies.
- It helps prevent parents from just leaving their kids in the children’s ministry too early, or too late after church. You can set up specific check-in and check-out times. Parents won’t be able to just leave their kids in the room an hour before service with no volunteers in the room. They will have to come take their kids to the class and come pick them up with the pick-up sticker.
- You get to connect with parents face to face. When parents don’t utilize a check-in system, they might have a tendency to let their kids just go to the children’s ministry by themselves and let their kids come find them after church, or even let an older sibling get the kids. Having a requirement for parents/guardians to bring kids to and from your children’s ministry gives you a great opportunity to connect with parents, build relationships with them and encourage them.
Once you decide to get a check-in system, you can determine if you want to use self-check-in stations, or volunteer manned stations, or multiple check-in spots in your church. However you set it up, make it clear to parents and make sure it is consistent, with all your volunteers on the same page. Even if parents may seem put off at first by the extra step it takes to check their kids in and out, they will appreciate you taking the safety of their kids seriously. God has entrusted churches with his children, and we need to do everything we can to protect them.